During the past decade, the number of urgent care centers has grown significantly. There are some medical issues, regulations, and legal issues these centers are facing. They remain a very popular choice for quick and easy medical care.
Urgent Care Center
This is a type of walk-in clinic. It is focused on treating illnesses or injuries that require immediate care. These are medical situations that may not be serious enough to require a visit to a hospital’s emergency room. They may provide the same type of services as ambulatory healthcare centers such as a convenient care clinic and more.
The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) has determined what criteria an urgent care center must meet. They must accept all walk-in patients during regular business hours. The center must be equipped to provide treatment for a variety of illnesses and injuries. They must also be able to perform minor medical procedures. A licensed physician must hold the position of medical director. The must have multiple exam rooms and a variety of diagnostic equipment on-site and more.
Many people continue to go to an urgent care center when they aren’t able to get to a hospital or other type of healthcare facility. In many situations, individuals won’t get the same level of care they experience when going to a hospital. The goal for care at an urgent care facility is speed. They want to get a patient finished with the registration, evaluation as well as treatment and discharge process within sixty minutes or less.
An urgent care center is subjected to audits that cover a wide range of risk areas. This includes third party payers as well as Medicare and more. It may be important to have experienced legal representative appeal an audit finding when necessary. They can also help during different levels of an audit appeal process. There are some substantive, procedural as well as strategic issues involved with having a successful audit defense. An experienced attorney will know how to draft position papers and write submissions designed to have a successful audit experience.
It may be beneficial to have an attorney help an urgent care center when it comes to drafting and negotiating their employment contracts. They will know how to identify issues that may cause problems with the urgent care center in the future. This involves non-solicitation as well as non-compete provisions and more. Audit risk assessment and some other issues are also important to have in an employment agreement.
Changes in the medical field can happen quickly. Many new regulations may require the help of a legal professional to fully comprehend. Too many times urgent care centers are more focused on dealing with providing healthcare to their patients, and not spending a sufficient amount of time focused on all of the latest regulation in their industry. An attorney will be able to keep an urgent care center aware of all the latest regulations and how to follow them so litigation can be avoided.
It is important for an urgent care center to maintain all proper documentation. Treating physicians need to be careful to thoroughly chart each important aspect of a physical examination. This is required and essential to avoid problems should a lawsuit occur. Legible handwriting is essential as is properly making notes, checking appropriate boxes as well as completing template charting. This creates the type of medical documentation that is defensible in court and can withstand the scrutiny of medical experts.
Not An Emergency Room
A person should not go to an urgent care center expecting the same level of care as an emergency room. Urgent care centers are usually staffed by physicians. Emergency room departments are staffed by specially trained emergency physicians. An emergency room will have access to diagnostic services such as labs, specialists such as surgeons, cardiologists and others who can provide specialized care. An urgent care center is not designed to provide this.
Emergency Medical Treatment
An urgent care center may have to meet the requirements of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This applies to hospitals with dedicated emergency departments. It requires these departments to provide certain services to patients in an emergency situation. Should an urgent care center be owned by a hospital or a joint venture with a hospital, it may be necessary to meet EMTALA requirements. An attorney will be able to assist and help an urgent care center comply if it is required to follow EMTALA regulations.